Sunday, April 18, 2021
Reading: Luke 24:13-35 
 
Now on that same day two of them were going to a village called Emmaus, about seven miles form Jerusalem and talking with each other about all these things that had happened.  - Luke 24:13-14 
 
Archeologists and biblical scholars have not figured out where Emmaus exactly, other than what Luke says, that it was about seven miles from Jerusalem. Given that Emmaus is a mystery as to its exact location, perhaps what's not being said here is that Emmaus could be about anywhere. One of the two that were on the road to Emmaus was named Cleopas and the other is unnamed. One wonders why if the one is named that the other one was left unnamed in Luke. Perhaps the other disciple is unnamed by Luke intentionally, to indicate that we could put our own names in place of the unknown walking partner of Cleopas.
 
We are all on that road to Emmaus. The destination isn't all that important for us to know. What's important is that we are all on this journey in life and on a road to somewhere. The two on that road to Emmaus were walking off their dismay and disappointment of what had transpired the previous few days with the death of their Lord. We sometimes find ourselves on that path in life, feeling overwhelmed and in some dark place of despair, not knowing how we will come out of it on the other side. 
 
A stranger comes along and begins to engage in a conversation with the two, asking them what they are talking about. They're alarmed that the stranger is oblivious to the news what had happened tin Jerusalem to Jesus of Nazareth and how he had been handed over to the religious authorities, condemned to death and crucified. Their eyes were kept from seeing who Jesus was unveils the story of his death and apparent resurrection. They are nearing the village when the two invite this stranger to stay with them for it is nearing evening time. And while they were sitting at the table together, in the breaking of the break, the eyes of the two were opened and they recognized Jesus. He disappears from their midst. They head back to Jerusalem to tell the others that they had seen the risen Lord.
 
Jesus presence moves us also, from despair and dismay, toward hope and joy. The revealing of scripture and the experience of communing in the breaking of bread, opens our eyes to his presence in our lives. His risen presence is with us through these means of God's grace week in and week out whenever we gather for worship, to help strengthen us in our journey of faith during the week. 
 
Let us pray: O Lord, whenever we gather for worship we recognize the risen Christ in our midst in the breaking of the bread and whenever the scriptures that are revealed to us. As you strengthen us by his very presence in our midst, so lead us out to proclaim his risen life into the world. Amen.  
Posted By: 4/17/2021 4:35:09 PM

Saturday, April 17, 2021
Reading: Luke 22:24-30 
 
"For who is greater, the one who as the table or the one who serves? Is not the one at the table? But I am among you as one who serves."  - Luke 22:27 
 
Jesus had just shared his last meal with his disciples and he is about to go into the Garden of Gethsemane to pray before being arrested and put on trial. He has shared the bread and the wine with them, saying to them, "Do this in remembrance of me." He has instituted a meal in which they are to recall, whenever they gather, his body given and his blood shed for them. 
 
This is the way of the servant king to give himself, even unto death. All the while Jesus is teaching them to serve rather than to be served by giving of themselves. This is the new order which Jesus teaches the disciples and teaches us, to put love first and self second. It runs contrary to the way of the dog-eat-dog world in which one primarily looks out for one's self above all things.
 
Each church that I've been part of and no doubt you have been involved in will have its patriarchs and matriarchs who have taught us the faith through their selfless giving. You and I can name them and remember their deeds of kindness and their generosity. These are the ones who have raised the banner of love in each generation. We recount their deeds of self-giving and pray that they they have sparked inspiration in each of us and others in the church.
 
I heard a long time ago someone who said that, "The church is the only institution that exists primarily not for its members." This is true only so much as we have caught on that this is indeed the church's mission, to exist for those primarily outside the church. This is the servant church of which Jesus speaks.
 
Let us pray: Gracious God, use us to be your servants to display your love toward others as Jesus has taught us in his name. Amen.  
Posted By: 4/16/2021 7:30:29 PM

[Sorry, but Friday, April 16 Blog reflection did not post]
Posted By: 4/16/2021 7:03:06 PM

Thursday, April 15, 2021
Reading: 1 John 2:26-28 
 
I write these things to you concerning those who would deceive you. As for you, the anointing that you received from him abides in you, and so you do not need anyone to teach you. But as his anointing teaches you about all things,and is true and not a lie, and just as it has taught you, abide in him.  - 1 John 2:26-27 
 
The beloved hymn text, "Abide with Me" was written by a Scottish Anglican minister by the name of Henry Francis Lyte in 1847.  Lyte suffered most of his life from poor health, including tuberculosis. It's been documented that he composed the words of the hymn while visiting a dying friend. As Lyte sat with his dying friend, he kept repeating the phrase "abide with me." The biblical text for the words of the hymn is Luke 24:29 in which the disciples asked Jesus to abide with them "for it is toward evening and the day is spent." It is the same text that will be part of our gospel for this coming Sunday, the story of the road to Emmaus. 
 
Although, this hymn text is not based on this passage from 1 John 2, the first stanza comes to mind:
 
    Abide with me; fast falls the eventide; 
   The darkness deepens; Lord with me abide.
   When other helpers fail and comforts flee,
   Help of the helpless, O abide with me. 
 
God abides in us and we with God. And in time of need, we abide with one another. But not for those who would deceive us, lie to us, or betray us - as they draw us away from God and one another.  To abide means to stay, remain, or dwell with; and God's good will for us is to remain with him always. As the words of the beloved hymn says, "When other helpers faith and comforts flee, help of the helpless, O abide with me." 
 
Let us pray: O Lord, abide with us, especially in those times when others would deceive us and wish to harm us. Comfort us with the care of your very presence in time of need. Amen.  
Posted By: 4/14/2021 5:28:08 PM

Wednesday, April 14, 2021
Reading: Mark 12:18-27 
 
"For when they rise from the dead, they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven."  - Mark 12:25 
 
The Sadducees, who do not believe there is a resurrection are out to trap Jesus. Their argument is that a man dies and leaves is widow without a husband. But according to the law of Moses the oldest brother of the man who died is obligated to marry her so that she may bear children. There are seven brothers. The oldest marries her but left no children. The next one dies with no children, and so forth, until all seven die without any children. Their question to Jesus is, upon the resurrection, who is she married to, since she had married all seven. Jesus could have said, "What's that to you anyways, since you do not believe in the resurrection. It's a mute issue." 
 
Instead, Jesus tells them plainly that at the resurrection, "They neither marry or are given in marriage, but they're like angels in heaven." So it sounds like if you're married on earth, when you get to heaven, you're no longer married to your partner and you will not marry again. Pardon the pun, but it sounds like in heaven, it is a different state of affairs. Jesus says the we will be like angels. I'm not sure what he means exactly by that statement, but I understand him saying that things will not be the same in heaven as they were for us on earth. 
 
We may think that after we die and are in heaven that things will be the same as where we left off on earth. Jesus is making the case that things will be different for us in heaven.  Note that Jesus said that we will be "like angels." This isn't to say that when we die and go to heaven that we become angels. There is a distinct difference between humankind and angel beings throughout scripture. But what Jesus means by being "like angels," is a bit obscure. What does that even mean? 
 
Precious little is actually written about heaven in scripture. We just think that we know a lot about heaven already. But we don't. Some of what we think that we know about heaven has been gleaned from novels and movie scripts. Is there a reason that the authors of the Bible are so silent about heaven? it would have been nice to have a whole book of the Bible dedicated to nothing else but a detailed description of heaven; what it will look like, what life will be like there, who will be there and how will be be able to recognize each other, and so forth. 
 
I think that there is a reason that the Bible is so vague about heaven. There is a saying that goes, "you're so heavenly minded that you're no earthly good." If we get so caught up with heaven, while still living here on earth, what good are we? This is not to dismiss heaven, mind you, but to remind us that we are living on earth for a purpose and it isn't to keep our head in the clouds, as it were. We are meant to live in the joy of the present and share in that joy which is found in the love of God in Jesus Christ. 
 
Let us pray:  God of heaven and earth, surround us with your love that is found in Christ, our Lord. Teach us to love one another until that day when you call us to live with you in your heavenly kingdom. Amen. 
 
 
Posted By: 4/14/2021 9:48:22 AM

Tuesday, April 13, 2021
Reading: 1 John 2:12-17
 
Do not love the world or the things of the world. The love of the Father is not in those who love the world. - 1 John 2:15 
 
My understanding from Bible commentaries and interpretation references concerning the "things of the world" does not mean actual things or material in nature. "Things of the world" refers to the things of human beings, over-and-against the things of God. The things of human beings is that the writer of First Letter of John is looked upon negatively. I appreciate the way that Eugene Peterson interpreted it in The Message
 
    Don't love the world's ways. Don't love the world's goods. Love of the world squeezes out love of the Father. Practically    everything that goes on in the world - wanting your own way, wanting everything for yourself, wanting to appear important -    has nothing to do with the Father. It just isolates you from him. The world and all its wanting, wanting, wanting is on the    way out - bu whoever does what God wants is set for eternity. 
 
Usually if we get caught up in the "things of this world" which Peterson interprets as wanting your own way and everything for yourself, squeezes out love of the Father. If we make it all about "me" there is little room for "Thee."  When we pray the Lord's Prayer, "Thy kingdom come; Thy will be done," we are not just paying lip service. The Lord's Prayer, though familiar, is not meant to be something that is spoken by rote, but is to be lived out with conviction. 
 
Let us pray: Our Father, it's hard not to squeeze out our love for you, when we get so caught up in the things of the world. Help us to look to your will for our lives as we seek to embody what it means to live in your kingdom. Amen.  
 
 
 
 
 
Posted By: 4/12/2021 1:17:41 PM

Monday, April 12, 2021
Reading: 1 John 2:3-11 
 
Whoever says, "I am in the light, while hating a brother or sister, is still in the darkness."  - 1 John 2:9 
 
If ever I said that I hated someone and I was within earshot of my mother, she would correct me. She'd say to me, "You don't hate anyone. You may just not like them that much or like what they say or do." Because she got after me about that, I would use the "hate" word sparingly. We hear a lot about hate these days, mostly on the news, having to do with hate crimes. We hear in the news of someone who is not of Asian descent brutally attack someone on the street who appears to look Asian, blaming the one that is being attacked for COVID-19 because its origins are from China. It's unconscionable. 
 
We constantly hear about such things because of someone's particular race or color of one's skin, religious affiliation, or political leanings. There is a tendency to either "demonize" another or "dehumanize" others, as a way of justifying the hatred. Sadly, some of the hate stems from religion, including those who espouse Christianity. But scripture is clear, as we see evident in the First Letter of John, that whoever "hates another is still in the darkness."  It's easy to love someone who is of the same faith as we are or believes the same things that we believe. It's much more difficult to love another person who is different than we are, especially those of another culture or belief system. 
 
Later on in the letter, the author writes, "Whoever does not love does not know God, for God is love. God's love was revealed among us in this way: God sent his only Son into the world so that we might live through him" (1 John 4:8-9). Love is supposed to be the central motivating force as Christians. This is it's mission, to reveal the love of God in all the world in what we say and in what we do. And that love is not selective. It is very clear that God sent his only Son into the world. 
 
Let us pray: Use us as instruments of your peace, O God, in Christ, to put an end to hatred and violence through the path of your Son, the way of love. Amen.  
Posted By: 4/11/2021 9:08:29 AM

Sunday, April 11, 2021
Reading: John 20:19-21 
 
When it was evening on that day, the first day of the week, and the doors of the house, where the disciples had met were locked for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said, "Peace be with you."  - John 20:19 
 
I once lived in a community where people didn't believe in locking their doors at night. It was a small North Dakota community in which people felt safe and things were secure. People in the community looked out for one another and had an unwavering trust for each other. There were few people going through town. If they did, they didn't stop and stay. They just drove through town on their way to somewhere else. The small town was not a destination point, unless you were a relative of someone who lived there. The church wasn't even locked, that is, until someone vandalized the sanctuary and stole some silver communion ware. The church was locked each night after that.
 
The situation must have been pretty dire for the disciples to have locked the doors of the house where they were staying. They'd just killed their Lord and Master, and they probably felt that their lives were threatened and they could be next. Things were not safe. And so they locked themselves up behind closed doors filled with fear. Jesus comes among them, beyond the locked doors and beyond their fear, to be present among them. The first words of the risen Christ were, "Peace be with you." Jesus, sensing their fear, provided his calming words and presence to help them move beyond their fear. After he showed them the wounds of his hands and side, the identifying marks of his crucifixion, he tells them, "As the Father has sent me, so I send you.'
 
There is no moving forward with our faith out into the world until our fears are quieted within us and we feel confident enough, beyond our fears, to act boldly with the confidence to share the news of the risen Jesus. Fear can paralyze us and stun us to become immobile and incapable of moving forward with our lives. But the Good News is that Jesus is capable of being wherever we are at, even behind locked doors, and his word is a proclamation of "peace." 
 
We, too, are called to be "sent one" of the living Christ. As those who are sent for his sake, we are called to share the gospel of the risen Christ wherever we are  at: at home, in our work, school, community, and wherever people are most hurting and in need. Christ breathes upon us the breath of life to embolden us to move beyond our fears and our insecurities to bring hope and healing to the lives of others.
 
Let us pray: Help us, O Lord, to move beyond our fears to be instruments of your peace in the world; through Jesus Christ, we pray. Amen. 
Posted By: 4/10/2021 4:07:34 PM

Saturday, April 9, 2021
Reading:  John 12:44-50
 
"I have come as light into the world, so that everyone who believes in me should not remain in darkness." - John 12:46 
 
The Earth is about 93 million miles from the Sun. It takes sunlight an average of 8 minutes and 20 seconds to travel from the Sun to the Earth. In about 5 billion years the Sun will run out of hydrogen and die. In this passage we hear about another Son, Jesus. He says, "I have come as light into the world, so that everyone who believes in me should not remain in darkness." The light that is Jesus is close to us and will remain forever.
 
Jesus the Christ gives light to the world to enlighten those who live in darkness. It is a light that reveals the love of God to those who are experiencing the darkness of sin from within and without. When I'm talking about sin here, I'm not talking about some sort of moral falling away, but that which separates us from the love of God, love of neighbor, and love of self.
 
Jesus says in this passage that he has come not to judge the world but to save it. This is the Light's mission, to illuminate the darkness, which could be understood as being separated from God, separated from the neighbor, and even estranged from ourselves. The Light's purpose is to fill us with the brightness of God's love in order to draw us closer to God and one another. We are meant to live in relationship with God, with others, and with the created order which God has made. When we are at odds with each other and when we are not living in relationship with God, it can be said that "we're in the dark."  To live in the light quite simply means to be filled with the love of God. 
 
Let us pray: God of Light, fill us with the radiance of your love so that we may be as light to shine brightly into the lives of others; we pray in Jesus Christ, the Light of the World. Amen.  
Posted By: 4/9/2021 8:48:26 AM

Friday, April 9, 2021
Reading: Acts 4:23-37
 
They laid it all at the apostles' feet, and it was distributed to each as any had need.  - Acts 4:35 
 
It says in Acts 4:34 that "there was not a needy person among them, for as many as owned lands or houses sold them and brought the proceeds of what was sold." What is going on here? You don't hear about this nowadays. This is a result of the work of the Spirit that is manifested in the selfless act of giving without regard. If this is what the gift of the Spirit gives in the early church then, that we cannot help but wonder why not now. 
 
We tend to justify the accumulation of possessions and wealth and our need to keep what we have. We justify the accumulation of our possessions, declaring that we deserve it because we have worked hard to earn it. The problem with this is illustrated in the Parable of the Rich Fool (Luke 12:16-21) in which a rich land owner had an abundant harvest. He has a conversation with himself about what he should do with his wealth. The problem with this is that no one else is part of the conversation. God is not a part of it nor is the neighbor in need. It's all about him. Consequently, God requires the life of the man who is all about the accumulation of wealth. But what he soon discovers is the old adage that, "You cannot take it with you." 
 
We have a "death grip" on our wealth that the early church apparently did not have a problem with. The Spirit moved people to give in a spirit of generosity which is beyond the understanding to our modern minds. It's not so easy for us to simply try to become the early church and their economy of giving. It will take time and a major cultural shift for us to move beyond privilege of the justification of our wealth toward an ethic of love manifested in our giving. 
 
Let us pray: We have a lot of work to do, O God. But the scriptures lead us toward the wealth of your will for us, in Christ, to give, give, give in a way that will make the Spirit proud. Amen.  
Posted By: 4/8/2021 9:51:36 PM

Thursday, April 8, 2021
Reading: Acts 2:42-47 
 
All who believed were together and had all things in common; they would sell their possessions and goods and distribute the proceeds to all, as any had need. - Acts 2:44-45 
 
This is perhaps a description of the first kibbutz. A kibbutz is a Jewish community dedicated to mutual aid and social justice based on the principle of mutual ownership of property, equality and cooperation of production. The closest concept to this would be our notion of a commune. 
 
The early church was more concerned about community, that is, taking care of each other, especially the poor, than it was about private or any individual ambitions and aspirations. The motivating factor of the early church was their unity in Christ which translated into their unity with one another by holding all things in common or sharing. 
 
The twentieth century socio-economic system of communism spelled out by Karl Marx began as a utopic vision, played itself out in Russia and China and other places more as an autocratic system that oppressed people rather than lifting them up. It created one class of impoverished people.
 
The early church model of sharing things in common was motivated by the love of God in Jesus Christ. The miniature model of this was Jesus and his followers. There was a common purse. They shared things in common. Lived a meager and austere life on the road sharing the gospel wherever they went, even to the point of relying on the hospitality and kindness of strangers from place to place. 
 
I'm pretty sure that I wouldn't have lasted on the road with Jesus and I probably would have been a bit too selfish with my things to give them all up in order to "share things in common" like those in the early church. Different times and different circumstances. But the notion of sharing and generosity is a universal one, especially, as one lives out the definition of what it means to be a Christian, a follower of Jesus Christ. 
 
Let us pray: Generous God, may we open our hearts and minds to the needs of others in our midst, as you have taught us in Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.  
 
Posted By: 4/7/2021 7:05:44 PM

Wednesday, April 7, 2021
Reading: Psalm 133
 
How very good and pleasant it is when kindred live together in unity! - Psalm 133:1 
 
Unity is a hard thing to come by these days. We have a divided house and senate in our houses of government. We are divided by red and blue states. We are divided into liberal and conservative. There is a division of race within our country. There is a division within the church, in doctrine and dogma and preferences of styles of worship. 
 
Division it seems is more common than unity. The writer of this psalm perhaps knows this because the psalmist writes, "How very good and pleasant it is when kindred live together in unity!" The psalmist is well aware, I think, that unity is hard to come by. Unity is what is strived for but not always often achieved. 
 
My wife, Brenda, and I have been watch a show called, "Men in Kilts." Two actors from the series, Outlander, Sam Heughan and Graham McTavish, explore their homeland of Scotland, delving into its culture an history. In the latest episode we watched, they were exploring the realm of clans in Scotland, which is a way in which the Scottish people learned to find their identity and survive. The clans were always feuding over land and were forever jockeying for positions of power. It's no wonder that the English could subdue them throughout the centuries. 
 
As we live within a country divided and a church not quite united, I believe that it is always God's will that we seek unity by finding common ground upon which to live together. We may not always agree with one another but we must live together. And this doesn't mean that we are supposed to merely put up with one another, but we discover our unity that we find through our love for one another in Jesus Christ, who draws us all together. 
 
Let us pray: As we seek unity, O Lord, teach us to love one another in the name of the King of Love, Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.  
Posted By: 4/6/2021 6:32:22 PM

Tuesday, April 6, 2021
Reading: 1 Corinthians 15:50-58 
 
Listen, I will tell you a mystery! We will not all die, but we will all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet.  - 1 Corinthians 15:51 
 
When I read these words from the Apostle Paul, I think about the bass accompagnato and air from Handel's Messiah. It is an apocalyptic vision of Paul's that speaks about the resurrected bodies that we will inherit "at the last trumpet." The mortal puts on immortality, the perishable takes on imperishability. 
 
For a very long time, the church spoke out against cremation because it was seen as corrupting the human body, as a desecration of what God had created. I've always wondered about this stance of the church, since, according to this passage, our mortal bodies will take on immortality. "We shall all be changed." There is also the the simple matter that our bodies will become as dust. We will return to the earth after we die. And then there is the issue of the countless martyrs throughout the ages that have been burned at the stake; their bodies turning to ash. It is only more recently that the church (primarily the Roman Catholic Church) has reversed it's stance on the issue of cremation.
 
We are fragile creatures whose lives are finite and bodies prone to death and decay. God, who endures forever, can turn what seems impossible into a possibility. If Jesus' friend, Lazarus, who was dead and in the tomb for four days can be raised by Jesus from the tomb and his decaying body made whole again, so also, can God make something new out of that which has died and was decaying.
 
This all sounds so morbid, almost the stuff of horror films. But it speaks the truth of the reality in which we live. The living, die. The cycle of life continues.
 
While I was sitting on the deck this afternoon, enjoying the warm temperature soaking up the sun, I couldn't help but notice how things have sprung to life once again. The trees are budding. The grass in getting green. The robin is chirping. The flowers are peering through the soil, reaching through the tomb of earth in which they were buried, but now rising up toward the light and warmth of the sun. God always give us hope in bringing forth new life.
 
Let us pray: O Lord of changing seasons, you bring forth life from death and hope from the darkness of our doubts and fears. We thank you for turning death to new life. Amen.  
Posted By: 4/5/2021 8:13:43 PM

Monday, April 5, 2021
Reading: 1 Corinthians 15:35-49 
 
Just as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we will also bear the image of the man of heaven. - 1 Corinthians 15:49 
 
When we confess our faith in the words of the Apostles' Creed we say that we believe in "the resurrection of the body." Note that it doesn't say the resurrection of the spirit or the soul, but of the body that is resurrected. But if you would ask most every Christian what they believe about where their loved one is when he or she has died, they would tell you that the spirit of their loved one is in heaven. I happen to find much comfort in this belief myself, since it puts my mind at ease to think that the people I loved who have died are now with God in heaven.
 
I'm sure that you've heard accounts of others whose loved one has died, witnessing the person's last breath, look as though they are seeing something heavenly appear in an expression of bliss or peace. And in the very moment following that expression, life escapes the person's body and that person is lifeless. Other accounts are of those who've died and then came back to tell us what they'd seen; loved ones who had gone before them, the face of Jesus, angels, or what have you. I don't think that any of these things can be easily dismissed. 
 
Paul talks about how we have born the image of the man of dust and also bear the image of the man of heaven. Indeed, when we die our bodies decay and are given back to the ground. But we are also in the image of the man of heaven, namely, we are also of the spirit. What happens when we die? Part of us are given back to the dust of the ground and the other part of us, the spirit, goes back to God. We hear in scripture that we will be given a new body, a different body, a heavenly body. A body like our own on earth, but unlike the earthly body is an imperishable one.
 
When Jesus died and rose again, he appears to his disciples in the room where they'd locked themselves in, out of fear - perhaps thinking that they crucified Jesus, then they're next. When Jesus appears to them he meets them in that locked room - going beyond the locked doors. But when he appears to the disciples, he reassures them that he is not a ghost. He shows them the wounds of his hands and side as physical evidence that it is he whom they knew and loved. Jesus appears to them again on the beach and eats fish with them there. Another sign of his physical body or presence, and yet, different. 
 
We confess that we believe in the resurrection of the body. How this will all happen remains a mystery. In the meantime, it is okay for us to not have all the answers on this side of heaven. This is where faith comes in. There is a certain degree of trust that we must have as we continue to walk by faith. We already have the assurance that we have been given in Christ Jesus, that because he lives, we shall live also.
 
Let us pray: Almighty God, the power of life and death is in your hands. May we trust in your love and grace for us, to be confident in your care of us in life, in death, and beyond. In Christ, we pray. Amen. 
Posted By: 4/4/2021 11:38:13 PM

Sunday, April 4, 2021
Reading: Mark 16:1-8 
 
So they went out and fled the tomb, for terror and amazement had seized them; and they said nothing to anyone , for they were afraid.  - Mark 16:8 
 
I happen to like Mark's ending to the story of the resurrection because it leaves us in suspense. Well, maybe just a little, because we know the rest of the story, after all. But someone must have said something to someone. Someone must have blabbed, because we have the gospels. In spite of fear and terror that overcame the women who visited Jesus' tomb, they eventually spoke of what had happened that first Easter.
 
If you look at the end of the Gospel of Mark you will see that there is what is called "the shorter ending of Mark," and then "the longer ending of Mark." These were in all likelihood written by someone other than Mark, who didn't care for his abrupt ending. I happen to believe that Mark left things "unfinished," because he knew full well that this wasn't the ending. He leaves the audience, as participants in the story, to complete it with their very witness to the Good News of Jesus Christ. For you see, the story of the resurrection doesn't end with the immediate disciples of Jesus, but continues on even to us. We have our own account of how the risen Christ as touched our lives as well. 
 
You and are may not be eyewitnesses to the resurrection but we are certainly witnesses of the faith in which we have encountered death and resurrection moments in our lives and in the lives of others. If you don't believe me, then talk to anyone who has experienced the depths of hell through an addiction, died, and rose again in recovery. There are life and death moments that occur constantly in our lives. They bring us closer to the one who calls himself The Resurrection and the Life. Every time we move beyond our fears, we undergo a transformation, an experience that brings us new life. Halleluiah! Amen!
 
Let us pray: We rejoice in your resurrection, O Lord! Lead us beyond our fear to find hope in your promise, that moves us from death to new life in you. Amen. 
 
Posted By: 4/3/2021 2:06:04 PM

Saturday, April 3, 2021
Reading; Genesis 1:1-2:4a 
 
God saw everything that he had made, and indeed, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day. - Genesis 1:31 
 
The first creation account in Genesis 1 is written as a song to be sung, recounting that which God had made each day. Each day, God speaks something into being, God sees what he has made is good, and each day ends with "And there was evening and there was morning." If ever you have the opportunity, listen to Aaron Copeland's composition called, "In the Beginning," and you will see that this creation account is meant to be set to music. The repetitiveness of the words reveal such. When God has spoken every thing into being, God sees everything that he had made and it was "very good."
 
It's interesting that the Bible begins on a positive note, while for centuries we have been concentrating on the negative notion of original sin espoused by St. Augustine. But everything that God had made was very good in God's eyes. The world and all the created order first began with an "original blessing," not "original sin." When God created the world and all that exists therein, it was good. Sin didn't come into the picture until later on in Genesis 3. But for some reason Western Christianity decided to chuck this and opted for concentrating on the negative notion of original sin. Eastern Christianity didn't buy into this, nor did Judaism or Islam.
 
This isn't to say, of course, that sin didn't enter into the world at some point. Because it did, obviously! But for some reason, St. Augustine took center stage in his belief in original sin over-and-against the belief of original blessing. There is an inherent goodness in us all, as well as in all of the rest of creation that has been neglected. Original sin is one of the centerpieces of the evangelicals, which has given them a license to play judge to put a label to everything that's morally disagreeable in their minds.
 
I've been reading a book by Matthew Fox, called, "Original Blessing." Matthew Fox is a priest and theologian. He was formerly a member of the Dominican Order but was thrown out of that order by the pope in 1993. He then became a member of the Episcopal Church. I've just started reading this book that he wrote, so perhaps more of what he has written about will come out in my blog.
 
Stay tuned ...
 
Let us pray: O God, when you spoke into being your creation, you proclaimed it to be 'very good," including humanity. May we live out the goodness for which we were created each and every day in order to give glory to you. Amen.  
Posted By: 4/2/2021 5:31:07 PM

Friday, April 2, 2021 (Good Friday)
Reading: John 18:1-19:42 
 
When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple whom he loved standing beside her, he said to his mother, "Woman, here is your son." Then he said to the disciple, "Here is your mother." And from that hour the disciple took her into his own home. 
- John 19:26-27 
 
Even while dying on the cross, Jesus was creating community. Concern for his mother's welfare upon his death, Jesus turns to the disciple whom he loved and bids him to take care of his mother. The cross becomes, also, a symbol of the community of faith. What was intended as an instrument of torture and death becomes a symbol of a people who gather together to worship in Jesus' name and unite together as sisters and brothers, mothers and sons, fathers and daughters in Christ. 
 
I've been a pastor of many congregations, and thus, also a member of those churches. Each church, I found, was unique, having it's own character, based on the make-up of the members and their personalities. Each church has had their strengths and weaknesses. But each had one thing in common, their strong sense of community, brought together by the crucified and risen Christ. 
 
The moment when a church looses focus on it's mission by concentrating on such things as it's building and debt, the church also looses that sense of what it means to live in or be a community of faith. When the church becomes more concerned about maintenance than it's ministry, they loose their sense of purpose. Notice what Jesus did on the cross. He creates community by being concerned about relationships. He didn't say to the disciple whom he loved, "Now go and build a church." He simply said, "Here is your mother." "And from that hour," it says, "the disciple took her into his own home." 
 
As we look out and see the needs of the members of our church, and the needs in the community in the Good Friday world in which we live, we can see the connection that we have with each other. The cross is only a symbol of Jesus death unless it is a cross that is lived out into the world where a need is met and then it becomes a living sign of hope for which Jesus intended. 
 
Let us pray: By your cross, O Lord, we are healed. As we are marked with the cross of Christ in our baptism, use us to create community wherever we may find ourselves. Amen.  
Posted By: 4/1/2021 5:07:09 PM

Thursday, April 1, 2021 (Maundy Thursday)
Reading: 1 Corinthians 11:23-26  
 
For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord's death until he comes. - 1 Corinthians 11:26 
 
One year ago today, the home bound, live-streamed, Maundy Thursday took place. Who would have thought that a year later, over 543,000 COVID related deaths would have taken place, When we hear about the Lord's death in this passage, we think of the extreme number of deaths in our country because of the pandemic. As Christians, our death is inextricably bound with the Lord Jesus. His pain, suffering and death is joined with ours at all times and in all generations. He hears our cries of suffering and grief.
 
This winter, a friend of ours died of COVID-19. Bob left his wife, children, grandchildren, and many other family and friends to wrestle with the pain of his death. And yet, the hope that is before them reaches beyond his death to a promise that is encrypted in the intimate meal with his disciples. "For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord's death until he comes,"
 
Paul writes to a troubled church that is abusing the gift of the meal which Christ had given. It is a meal that is meant to help those who partake to remember his most innocent body and his most precious blood, given and shed for us. This holy meal is not meant to be abused, but rather, to be enjoyed as a life-giving offering of his body and blood, in order for us to remember his innocent suffering and death, and his affinity with us as a man of pain and sorrow who hears our cries. 
 
Let us pray: In the night in which you shared your last meal with your disciples, you instituted a supper of remembrance with all who gather to share in the gift of Holy  Communion. On this Maundy Thursday, help us to remember your innocent suffering and death, as we are enriched to ingest the living Christ into our lives, to infuse your life-giving presence into the lives of others. Amen 
 
 
Posted By: 3/31/2021 8:53:08 PM

Wednesday, March 31, 2021
Reading: Hebrews 12:1-3 
 
Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight of sin that clings so closely, and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus the pioneer and perfector of our faith.
- Hebrews 12:1-2a 
 
This is one of the most powerful statements in all of scripture, "We are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses." There are those who have gone before us who have been mentors, guides, and paragons of the faith and have taught us what it means to walk by faith. They are the saints who have died and whose witness have left an indelible mark upon our lives. 
 
I think about my two grandmothers who taught me much. My Grandma Hollingsworth was a gentle and hard working woman. She was always so kind and generous. She gave me the job of mowing her lawn. When I was through cutting the grass, she'd ask me, "So how about a root beer float?" In my recollection of her, she never said a harsh word about anyone and never swore. "Isn't that the berries," was about the closest she came to cursing, if you could even call it that.
 
My Grandma Brown was also a hard working woman and knew how to scrimp and save. She was always helping others. She visited Aunt Lilly in the nursing home, volunteered at the Mt. Olivet Home, and was one of the charter members of her church, along with my grandfather. She taught me the importance of being involved with the church, using your gifts where they were needed.
 
I like to think that it was through their influence that I was lead into the ordained ministry. There are others, of course, who encouraged me along the way: my pastor in South Africa, the Sunday school superintendent who planted the seed of considering being a pastor, my parents who were faithful church members, and many others along the way, who made a significant impact in my life of faith.
 
Many of those I just mentioned are now part of the "great cloud of witnesses." They are now part of what we call 'the church triumphant." You have your own "cloud of witnesses" who have influenced your lives. They are the ones who have shaped you to be the person you are today. Give God thanks for these saints and remember them always.
 
Let us pray; O God, we thank you for those whose lives have intersected with ours and have taught us what it means to live a life of faith and now rest with you in light eternal. Amen.  
Posted By: 3/30/2021 8:53:41 PM

Tuesday, March 30, 2021
Reading: John 12:20-36 
 
"Very truly, I tell you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains just a single grain; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. Those who love their life will lose it, and those who hate their life in this world will keep it for eternal life." 
- John 12:25-26
 
One of the things that you don't hear people say who are nearing the end of their life, and looking back, say is, "If only I'd given less."  Gerhard Frost in his book, Seasons of a Lifetime,  wrote a brief meditation called "Love Knows."
 
   Never in the midst of mourning does love regret its giving,
   and one to another, weeping say:
   If only we'd given less to the one who died we'd have more today.
   Love knows the lie, and knowing,
   rejoices in the spending. 
 
As we journey with Jesus to the cross, we are mindful of his giving of himself. He teaches us that there is no life without giving away our lives, of sharing ourselves with others in our giving. The farmer knows the cycle of life and death, and is keenly aware that a seed has to be buried in order for new life to come forth. If only we'd catch onto this important lesson in life - to give ourselves away, dying to our selves, in order to live and bring forth new life. 
 
Let us pray: As you gave your life away, O Lord, you have shown to us the path to life in all it's abundance. Continue to teach us Lord, to give ourselves away so that we may live. Amen.  
Posted By: 3/29/2021 10:32:05 AM

Monday, March 29. 2021
Reading: John 12:1-11 
 
Mary took a pound of costly perfume made of pure nard, anointed Jesus' feet, and wiped them with her hair. The house was filled with he fragrance of the perfume. But Judas Iscariot, one of the disciples (the one who was about to betray him) said "Why was this perfume not sold for three hundred denarii and the one given to the poor?"  - John 12: 3-4 
 
This passage is a precursor to Jesus' death and burial. It's pretty evident in the text when it says in verse 7: "Jesus said, 'Leave her alone. She bought it so that she might keep it for the day of my burial.'" This is a story of extravagance. This is a story about grace. Mary is lavishly pouring the expensive perfume upon Jesus' feet not only as a sign of his burial but as an indication of her deep devotion to Jesus.  
 
The Lord of Grace says to Judas who says that he was concerned about the poor but was not, "You will always have the poor with you, but you do not always have me." Jesus was the champion of the poor and knew full well that even at the expensive perfume could not reach all those who were poor. In no way does this disregard the poor and their plight. But it lifts them up, because it is the poor for which Jesus died and was buried. 
 
The sweet smell of the perfume upon Jesus' feet was an act of love which demonstrated Mary's recognition that he was the sweet fragrance of grace upon which he lavished his very life unto death.
 
Let us pray: May the sweet smell of your grace be lavished upon us who seek your presence and abundant forgiveness given by your very grace upon us. Amen.  
  
Posted By: 3/28/2021 8:42:42 PM

Sunday, March 28, 2021
Reading: Mark 11:1-11 
 
When they were approaching Jerusalem, at Bethphage and Bethany, near the Mount of Olives, he sent two of his disciples and said to them, "Go into the village ahead of you, and immediately as you enter it, you will find tied there a colt that was never ridden; untie it and bring it."  - Mark 11:1-2
 
A commander of the Roman army, upon winning a battle victorious would ride a stallion into the city as a show of strength and power. It would be a sign to the people of Rome's control and dominion. On Palm Sunday, Jesus does just the opposite, as a mockery of human strength and power and to display that through weakness and humility comes God's reign. Jesus comes riding into Jerusalem on a borrowed donkey. Even so, the crowd shouts, "Hosanna! Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord! Blessed is the coming kingdom of our ancestor David! Hosanna in the highest heaven!" 
 
Jesus is not the Messiah that they'd come to expect. He is not the King David whose reign the people longed for. Jesus didn't come as a military ruler who would thwart the Roman occupiers. But rather Jesus comes as one whose reign ushers in a new kind of kingdom; not as one of power and might, but as one of humility and servanthood. God's reign of love will upend all human endeavors to control or manipulate history. 
 
On this Palm Sunday, think about what kind of Jesus that you're willing to offer up laud and praise. We often manipulate Jesus, or at least the image of Jesus, to the way that we want him to be - for us. But at every turn, Jesus reveals himself as one who cannot be limited to our narrow minded thinking about him. May we be open to his control of us, shaping us into the serving him through the love of God. 
 
Let us pray: Lord Jesus, may your reign of love direct all of our days and our deeds in your name. Amen.  
Posted By: 3/27/2021 5:09:39 PM

Saturday, March 27, 2021
Reading: Mark 10:32-34, 46-52 
 
Many sternly ordered him to be quiet, but he cried out even more loudly, "Son of David, have mercy on me!"  - Mark 10:48 
 
I cannot tell you the number of times that I've read or heard read or even preached on this passage in Mark's gospel, the story of blind Bartimaeus, and missed the little detail. What I'm talking about is how many in the crowd sternly ordered the blind man to stop shouting out for Jesus. Why do they try to stifle Bartimaeus? Is it because they think. that Jesus shouldn't pay the time of day to the man because he is blind and that he begs? Do they think that he is being a nuisance for crying out? Or could it be that they try to silence him because his cry is drowning out their own pleas for help and attention? 
 
It's not until Jesus pays attention to the man and tells them to call him over to him that some in the crowd seem sympathetic to Bartimaeus in saying to him, "Take heart; get up, he is calling for you." Up to this moment, they seemed to want Jesus to simply ingnore the blind beggar until Jesus actually tells them, "Call him here." Could it be that some are suddenly interested in this man's plight because Jesus is interested in him, and if Jesus is interested in him their thought is "then perhaps Jesus will be interested in me." 
 
It's a curious thing that right before this incident occurred, Jesus had just been telling his disciples, "Whoever wishes to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wishes to be first among you must be slave of all." The story of the healing of blind Barimaeus is an illustration of  the point that Jesus is making. Jesus could have ignored the poor man's cry for mercy, but he didn't. Healing Bartimaeus was another revelation to this disciples and to the crowd that the Son of Man came to serve. And the sooner that everyone gets that, and the importance of serving those in need, the sooner they will understand who the Son of Man is and what their role is in his kingdom. 
 
Jesus says to the man who was blind, "Go; your faith has made you well," Immediately he regained his sight and followed him on the way. Bartimaeus gets it, he now sees, not just physically, but he sees Jesus for who he is and begins to follow him.
 
Let us pray: Have mercy, Son of David, and hear our cry to you to heal us of our blindness to you, so that we may see you more clearly, love you more dearly, and follow you more nearly.  Amen.  
Posted By: 3/27/2021 7:56:07 AM

Friday, March 26, 2021
Reading: Philippians 2:12-18
 
Therefore, my beloved, just as you have always obeyed me, not only in my presence, but much more now in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who is at work in you, enabling you both to will and work in you for his good pleasure. - Philippians 2:12-18 
 
You may recall the popular song that came out in 1990 sung by Bette Midler, "From a Distance." The lyrics indicate that God is is in some far off distant place, detached from our plight as human beings, and uncaring that we have to contend with guns, bombs, disease, and other such things. "God is watching us...From a distance," is the chorus. It was a catchy tune but the words contained, I thought, some pretty poor theology. The God that this song portrays is not the God who is revealed to us in scripture, nor the God we encounter who draws close to us, even to the extent of incarnational intimacy with us by becoming as one of us. 
 
The Apostle Paul speaks of a God who is at work within us, closely connected with our being. There is no distant God far-removed from hearing our cries to come close to us in our needs and in our suffering. Richard Rohr, in his book, The Universal Christ, writes, "But think about it: If the incarnation is true, then of course God speaks to you through your own thoughts! As Joan of Arc brilliantly replied when the judge accused her of being a victim of her own imagination, 'How else would God speak to me?'"
 
This may be a frightening notion when you consider that there have been some who have claimed to hear God speaking to them to go and shoot someone. This is where Paul is perhaps saying, "work out your own salvation with fear and trembling." Discernment needs to take place, some inner wresting of our souls with God's will. God is about love, reconciliation, forgiveness, and healing - life itself. Yes, God speaks to us, I am convinced. But we must always be listening to that voice with some "fear and trembling." If the voice we hear tells us to shoot someone, or to cause any other harm to someone deliberately, that is not the voice of God. If the voice tells us to lie, cheat, and deceive someone. This too, is not the voice of God. The voice of God, is the voice of love.
 
God is continually at work within us to work out his good pleasure through us. No, God is not watching us from a distance, but is as near to us as our own thoughts and close to us as our own hearts. 
 
Let us pray: Draw near to us, O God, to work within us your divine pleasure for our lives and in the lives of others, through us. Amen.  
Posted By: 3/25/2021 6:17:21 PM

Thursday, March 25, 2021
Reading: Luke 1:26-38 
 
And he (Gabriel) came to her (Mary) and said, "Greetings, favored one! The Lord is with you." But she was much perplexed by his words and pondered what sort of greeting this might be.  - Luke 1:28-29 
 
Today on the church calendar is The Annunciation, marking the occasion when the angel Gabriel announced the news to Mary a virgin that she is to conceive a child who will be called "the Son of the Most High." I'm sure that Mary was greatly perplexed by this announcement. First of all, how is it that she could conceive a child since she was yet a virgin. And how is it that the Lord should choose Mary, a teenage girl from the nowhere town of Nazareth be the mother of a son who will be called "the Son of the Most High." 
 
It is remarkable that God would choose to be born in human likeness, in human form, and live among us. It is also remarkable that God would choose someone as common and as ordinary as Mary to be his servant to help accomplish this. Mary's humble response was, "Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word." Her response was a miraculous one. Mary could have said, "no," but allowed herself to be a handmaid of God and an instrument of God's divine will. Humanity, and indeed the whole of creation, owe Mary a debt of gratitude for her willingness to be part of God's plan of salvation for the world.
 
Let us pray: Almighty God, you choose Mary as your servant to bear and give birth to the hope of the world, and indeed, our salvation. May she be an example to us all to humbly bow to your will for the the sake of the world. Amen.  
Posted By: 3/24/2021 5:18:52 PM

Wednesday, March 24, 2021
Reading: John 12:34-50 
 
Jesus said to them, "The light is with you for a little longer. Walk while you have the light, so that the darkness may not overtake you. If you walk in the darkness, you do not know where you are going."  - John 12:35 
 
There is a lot of symbolism in John's gospel concerning light and darkness. In fact, the Gospel of John begins in his prologue, "The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it." What does it mean to walk in the light as opposed walking in the darkness? 
 
The context of these words of Jesus is his telling his disciples about his departure, about the giving of himself on the cross. And he then shares in a last supper with them. Unique to John's gospel is Jesus getting up from the table and washing his disciples' feet as a sign of servanthood for which he has been called and to which they also have been called. To walk in the darkness is to not comprehend and accept these things about the purpose of his self-giving and for his followers to do the same. Knowing that Jesus lived among us "full of grace and truth" is to walk in the light of his presence. "To be in the dark" is to reject these things and continue to live lives that are self-absorbed. 
 
If we get caught up in living as though the world "owes us something," it is contrary to the lives that Jesus has called us to live. To be continually angry, even to the point of hating others, especially if they are different than we are, is to walk in darkness. It is the opposite of "the love for which God so loved the world" that we hear about in John's gospel. It is contrary to the new commandment that he gave his disciples after he'd washed their feet, to "love one another" just as he had shown love to them. 
 
Let us pray: O Savior of the World, who taught his disciples what it means to walk in light as children of the light, illuminate the path that we too should go, and so also, to know the path of your way of love for the world. Amen.  
Posted By: 3/23/2021 4:02:49 PM

Tuesday, March 23, 2021
Reading: Acts 2:14-24 
 
'In the last days it will be, God declares, that I will our out my Spirit upon all flesh, and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your old men shall dream dreams.'  - Acts 2:17 
 
Visions and dreams are the stuff of God. They are the sources of mystery in which God works through his people. I happen to think that  there are not enough visions and dreams these days. We're all too busy trying to figure out how we're gong to keep the lights on and the personnel paid. We get mired in the muck of day-to-day operations of the church that we neglect the most important mission of visions and dreams.
 
When you think about it, visions and dreams are the creative means by which God gets things done. This comes as no surprise, because God the creator instills within us, as his image, the creative nature of God. But we get too stuck in things like buildings and polity. I don't think that God is that interested in those as much as he is in the flesh and blood of our being. God is interested in relationships - our interaction with one another and our connection with him. 
 
Churches have mission statements as a way of defining who they are and what they are about. The mission statement of Immanuel Lutheran Church is, "Centered in Christ's love to invite, grow, and go." This mission statement has movement to it as the verbs invite, grow, and go propel us as a congregation to be actively involved in the lives of people. Some congregations have a vision statement that describes the desired future position of the church. Sometimes, rather than a vision statement, a church will set some goals that are visionary in looking toward the future. Without some sort of vision or dream the church falters and remains stagnant. 
 
God gives us all gifts. To some are given the gifts of being visionaries and dreamers. Every congregation has them but not every church calls upon or utilizes those with these particular gifts. It is up to each of us, especially those in leadership, to help members discover and use their gifts toward furthering God's kingdom.
 
Let us pray: O Lord, lead us by your Spirit in the present moment and into the future and to use the gifts with which you have given us to further your reign in our lives. Amen.  
Posted By: 3/22/2021 5:53:37 PM

Monday, March 22, 2021
Reading: Psalm 119:9-16 
 
I will delight in your statutes; I will not forget your word.  - Psalm 119:16 
 
I suppose that it can be said that we all forget God's word, otherwise we wouldn't be considered as sinners. It's admirable of the psalmist to state that he will not forget God's word; that he will delight in and remember God's statutes. But I don't think that this is not to say that the psalmist is declaring his innocence, that he has perfectly kept the law. In fact, at the end of this longest of psalms in the psalter, the psalmist confesses, "I have gone astray like a lost sheep; seek out your servant, for I do not forget your commandments." The psalmist is perhaps stating that he does not forget God's word or his commandments more as a way of giving voice to something he desires rather than something he has actually accomplished.  
 
We all forget God's word from time to time. We do not always keep God's commands. But this doesn't mean that there is not an inner longing that we have to do so. We are like lost sheep that try to find our way and look to God to find us.
 
A number of years ago my sister, her husband and their young son were with Brenda and I at the Renaissance  Festival in Shokopee. It had been a long day and we were all heading to the gate. Suddenly, my sister, Cathy, had a look of panic as she turned to her husband, Ron, and asked him in a trembling voice, "Ron, where is Evan?" He then, had a panicked look and shouted back, "Cathy, I thought you had him!" And she retorted, "And I thought you did!" We all started scrambling, shouting out, "Evan," in the crowd of people. As we were desperately searching for Evan, which seemed like an eternity but was I'm sure only about twenty minutes, the guy who sold giant pickles had Evan's hand and came up to us and asked, "Is this your title boy?" We were, of course, all quite relieved as Cathy held onto her son for dear life.
 
I'm thinking that this is how it is with our God whenever we are lost. Like a parent who desperately searches us out until we are found, God calls out our name until we are safe in the arms of his enfolding love.
 
Let us pray: Dear God, we long to remember your word and keep your commands. We look to you as the lost sheep that we sometimes are, to find us and embrace us in your arms of love. Amen.  
Posted By: 3/21/2021 8:04:46 AM

Sunday, March 21, 2021
Reading: Jeremiah 31:31-34 
 
No longer shall they teach one another, or say to each other, "know the LORD," for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, says the LORD; for I will forgive their iniquity, and remember their sin no more. - Jeremiah 31:34 
 
There is covenant making throughout the Bible, in which God makes or cuts a covenant with his people. The covenant is sometimes bi-lateral, in which case, something is expected from each party. However, most covenants made by God are unilateral, in which God acts solely on behalf of his people. This particular covenant in Jeremiah is such a covenant as this. God is going to write his law into the hearts of his people and they shall all know God; and God will forgive their iniquity and remember their sin no more.
 
We enter into covenants all the time as human beings. Marriage is a covenant, for example, in which two people vow to love, cherish, and be faithful to one another until death parts them. As citizens of the United States we enter into a covenant to obey the laws of our country. Countries enter into peace treaties with each other through a covenant or an agreement with one another. Employers and employees enter into a covenant which often involves a contract.
 
Baptism is a covenant in which we are washed in the water and the word and are claimed by God to be God's very own. It is a unilateral covenant in which God has declared the baptized as children of God. It is an outward sign of God's means of grace in which we are received by God and as a member of the church family. No where in our baptismal covenant are there certain restrictions: the amount of water used, the age of the one being baptized, a level of understanding concerning one's faith. God receives us simply out of God's love and acceptance of us. We do not earn the right to be baptized or have to have reached a certain status in the eyes of God or humankind. It is the visible means of God's grace.
 
Let us pray: So often times, God, we want to limit who is or who is not accepted by you. But your love for us is greater than our human understanding or any conditions that we want to place on our relationship with you. We thank you for your ineffable love for us; in the name of Jesus we pray. Amen. 
Posted By: 3/20/2021 7:00:42 PM

Saturday, March 20, 2021
Reading: John 12:1-11 
 
"Very truly, I tell you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains a single grain; but if it dies, it bears much fruit." - John 12:24 
 
Jesus is talking about his impending death but also talking to his disciples about what it means to follow him. To be a disciple of the Lord Jesus means to make some sacrifices. It means putting aside selfishness. It's about forsaking the things of this world for the things of God's kingdom. It means dying to self in order to gain one's self. This is quite contrary to the ways of the world in which we live.
 
The world tells us that we have to look out for ourselves because no one else will. It tells us to indulge ourselves because life is too short. The way of the world is the way of the commercial venture of buying something in order to make yourself look better, feel better, smell better. But it's all a lie because, in the end, true satisfaction in life, Jesus tells us, is in putting aside one's self. It's a matter of giving away one's  life. 
 
I like the analogy of the grain of wheat that falls into the ground and dies in order to spring forth new life. The farmer knows about the sacrifice. The seed must be given over to death in order for new life to arise. It is a death and resurrection scenario. In a world in which we are self-absorbed the agricultural analogy of the grain is a perfect illustration of how the things of God truly work in the world. Life and death are not only a cycle of the natural order of things but it is the very process in which we are redeemed. 
 
Let us pray: May we die, O Lord, to ourselves so that we may live for you. Amen.  
Posted By: 3/18/2021 7:01:44 PM

Comments:
Guest8/20/2020 6:39:53 AM
Goes right with the hymn “We Are Called”. Now that will be going through my head for awhile. Suggestion: Could this Post a Comment be right below the daily blog every day? Otherwise you have to scroll down to the bottom of all to find it.

Guest8/20/2020 6:39:53 AM
Goes right with the hymn “We Are Called”. Now that will be going through my head for awhile. Suggestion: Could this Post a Comment be right below the daily blog every day? Otherwise you have to scroll down to the bottom of all to find it.

V
Vicky 8/19/2020 8:06:34 AM
This is so needed in our “Today’s” world for everyone. Once again Trust God and Have Faith! Thanks Pastor. (Cabin fresh air let me sleep in till 6:30 today.) 😊

Guest8/18/2020 9:38:24 AM
Thanks for your feedback Vicky. I wondered if I was posting the reflections too late for some, like yourself. I am going to try to do them a day early so I'm ahead of the game. Although, when I say this, I realize that I am already behind.

V
Vicky Anderson8/9/2020 8:29:08 AM
I will miss your devotions but I like the idea of interacting. However I wish you could post earlier as I like my spiritual time early in the morning. I was always reading your devotional a day late so I could do my devotions at 5-6 am when I wake up.

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